THE Armed Forces yesterday said it is against the declaration of a ceasefire with the communist movement, even outside the traditional yuletide truce, because its leaders are no longer in control of their fighters on the ground.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines has already spoken, particularly AFP chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay who said we are not going to recommend a holiday ceasefire,” AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said.
“It’s more than that, we are not recommending ceasefire even beyond or outside the holiday season,” Arevalo also said.
On Thursday, Arevalo said the military will not recommend to President Duterte a Christmas truce with the communists, citing the rebels’ violations of past ceasefires. Also, he said the rebels use such truce to recover from their losses.
On Friday, Gapay said the AFP will not recommend a ceasefire, even if peace negotiations will resume, because the rebels take advantage the truce to attack government troops and extort from civilians.
President Duterte has ended the peace talks.
Gapay also said the military should be allowed to sustain the momentum of its counter-insurgency operations, adding “it’s just a matter of time before we can really put an end to this insurgency problem.”
Duterte’s term ends in June 2022.
Arevalo yesterday said there is no use in declaring ceasefire with the communist movement because the group’s national leaders, led by the Netherlands-based Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, are no longer in control of their fighters on the ground. He said the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been violating ceasefires declared by the CPP leadership and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“That’s why the ceasefire declared by these national leaders are not observed, it’s because (NPA rebels) are not listening to them. They are not in control and it’s the very reason why we no longer want a national ceasefire,” added Arevalo.
Arevalo said the military instead wants unhampered operations against the rebels who he said continue to attack government and civilian targets, even during the ceasefires and in times of calamity.
“Apparently, they no longer have effective control over the NPAs on the ground or are not actually controlling the actions of their armed wing. Hence, peace talks with them in a national level is an exercise in futility,” said Arevalo.
Arevalo said what the military prefers is localized peace talks which he said “serve the purpose better.”
“Issues and concerns that impact on the drivers of insurgency vary from one locality to another. And the best way to deal with and address these (drivers) is locally and trough local chief executives,” he said.
Arevalo said the military has yet to receive word from the President as to the military’s statement against a Christmas ceasefire.
“But our stand on that issue is there are many instances in the past where they violated (ceasefires). The terrorist group is not sincere and they always violate the ceasefire they declare, specifically attacking soldiers, policemen who not on combat operation,” he said.
The Duterte administration and the communists declared ceasefires in August 2016 as part of the peace process. The ceasefire went beyond the Christmas season that year or until February the following year.
In 2017, President Duterte declared a ceasefire with the communist for the Christmas season despite the defense and military establishments’ recommendation against it.
Incidentally, he issued a proclamation, terminating the peace talks with the communist movement, a month earlier. The communists reciprocated the truce.
In 2018, President Duterte heeded the recommendation of the military and defense department not to declare a yuletide ceasefire. The communists still declared their unilateral truce.
Last year, Duterte declared a truce despite the military’s contrary position.
Policemen arrested two NPA rebels, including a squad leader, in separate operations in Quezon City and Laguna on Saturday.
Romeo Aytona Jr alias Alon, 45, a squad leader of the NPA’s West Committee, Danilo Command Northern Front, was nabbed along EDSA corner Kamias road in Quezon City.